book review

The Last Girl by Joe Hart

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The Last Girl by Joe Hart

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Pages: 386
Source: publisher in exchange for honest review
Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
A mysterious worldwide epidemic reduces the birthrate of female infants from 50 percent to less than 1 percent. Medical science and governments around the world scramble in an effort to solve the problem, but twenty-five years later there is no cure, and an entire generation grows up with a population of fewer than a thousand women.
Zoey and some of the surviving young women are housed in a scientific research compound dedicated to determining the cause. For two decades, she’s been isolated from her family, treated as a test subject, and locked away—told only that the virus has wiped out the rest of the world’s population.
Captivity is the only life Zoey has ever known, and escaping her heavily armed captors is no easy task, but she’s determined to leave before she is subjected to the next round of tests…a program that no other woman has ever returned from. Even if she’s successful, Zoey has no idea what she’ll encounter in the strange new world beyond the facility’s walls. Winning her freedom will take brutality she never imagined she possessed, as well as all her strength and cunning—but Zoey is ready for war. --Goodreads
The Last Girl by Joe Hart is the story of a time when the incidence of birthing a female child grows scarce. The government collects the few female children born in this devastating age, called the Dearth, and sequesters them in an isolated compound in order to protect them from the perils of a collapsing society.  The compound also researches the plague that causes the mutation in the embryonic birth cycle resulting in the lack of female births. The population of females 21 years old or younger when the novel begins is a mind-blowing total of seven with one girl about to graduate (become 21), Terra, and another due to turn 21 shortly thereafter, Zoey.  This story is told through Zoey’s perspective.  The reader is thrown into the story as Zoey worries over Terra’s graduation day because the graduating girls are taken through a set of doors, supposedly to be returned to their families residing in another section of the compound.  Zoey’s concern stems from the fact that once a girl graduates, none have ever returned.  The younger girls are always kept under constant guard and have never even seen any people other than each other, their guards (called clerics), cleric sons and administrative personnel.  If you put that in terms of a child’s pre-math lessons of what does not fit, one group becomes obvious.  Why are the cleric’s sons allowed access to the girls and why are they all each a similar age to the girl their father guards?

Out of the remaining six girls after Terra’s graduation, Zoey watches over the youngest girl, Lily,who is developmentally disadvantaged, and is best friends with one other girl named Meeka.  The other three girls seem malicious and are out to get Zoey, although I don’t really understand why.  Zoey dreams of being free from the compound to live life as she sees fit, free of a constant guard, free to read what she wants or to come and go as she pleases and free to associate who she chooses to associate with.  Zoey is not selfish though, as she wants to free all of the girls as well, whether friend or foe.  This is an impossible situation because she cannot confide in all of the girls because three of them would have her turned in and punished and the youngest doesn’t have the cognitive capabilities to understand the need for secrecy.  Punishments for breaking the rules are very stringent and abusive which is very odd for a group of girls who are supposedly being protected from what the outside world has turned into.  This is the world inside the compound where the first half of the book takes place and holds any claim to the science fiction category the novel is labeled.

The second half of the novel is like a totally different story altogether and is the post-apocalyptic section of the novel.  Some of the scenes in this section played in my mind like clips from the original Mad Max movie.  Then the new cast of characters arrived.  They were sometimes hard to keep straight, but one boy in particular left me wanting to hear more of his story which I hope
will be in one of the other books in this trilogy.  The main male protagonist of this section reminded me of a John Wayne character, sometimes tough but a strong man with a heart.

I have tried very hard to provide a sense of this novel without any spoilers.  Overall this novel was very good but the reader will question situations throughout the story that will not necessarily be fully resolved to their satisfaction by the end of the book.  Other issues feel quite gratuitous as if there only purpose is to touch on some of the recent societal and political issues that have been in the news, but don’t really add anything to this tale.

This novel does have a little something for everyone, a little romance , a little intrigue, good guys, bad guys, those who want change, those who want to have everything the way it was, some fights and flights, battles and a chance for the future.  It also leaves you thinking.  Who is to say which is the right way to ensure the best hope for the future.  Does the end justify the means?  Are we as a world population spoiled?  Do we have the right to be the master of our own individual lives even if it means our extinction?  I hope the next book releases soon so I can find out.

book review

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Thursday, March 10, 2016

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Pages: 337
Source: purchased
Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?
In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing. --Goodreads
Lara Jean and Peter are back in the sequel everyone has been waiting for.  To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before ends with the realization that maybe Lara Jean likes Peter, not just in that pretending way they have been in the whole time.  Maybe she likes him for real.  In P.S. I Still Love You, Lara Jean and Peter make a new contract for their new, real relationship with one condition.
I don’t want us to ever break each other’s hearts.
With that, their relationship sparks new hiccups and understandings which neither of them could have foreseen.  This novel is a simple, yet enchanting romance which concludes the duology. 

Jenny Han has created such a gorgeous work of art.  I know I discussed Lara Jean’s family life in the first review as being one of the most realistic looks at teen life in a long time.  The family we all loved is back but seem to become the backdrop of other happenings.  Han tackles cyber bullying which only supports her very real plot.  Not to mention the underlying theme of growing out of certain friendships will certainly speak to any teen.  Both novels are extremely relatable

Peter has never been the most interesting of characters.  Even in To All the Boys, I found him a little cliché, as well as annoying.  Getting to know him better in the first prepared me for what was to come in P.S. I Still Love You but it also helped me to keep changing my mind on which boy I liked better.  Remember John? He was another boy who received a letter in the first and he basically encompasses every girls’ dream boy.  If things were different, it would certainly be an entirely different novel. 

Upon a closer reading (here’s the English major in me speaking), the mention of The Sound of Music becomes an extended metaphor for the end of the novel.  Without giving too much away, the end scene takes place in a treehouse which is about to be demolished, in order to become a gazebo.  Thus, Peter indirectly represents the boy who turned out to be a secret Nazi (in The Sound of Music) and Lara Jean, the naïve girl.  This observation just concludes that if there were to be another sequel, I don’t think Peter would be in the picture much longer. 

The ending itself is satisfactory, neither good nor bad.  It is a bit in between.  It is not a perfect ending, nor an open-ended one.  Lara Jean and Peter will continue their lives—it is the sort of ending like an audience would have at the theater.  The curtains are drawn and it is over.

P.S. I Still Love You was truly superb.  It was a fantastic sequel and, overall, the series is definitely worth many rereads in the future.  It is raw, real, and enticing.  Jenny Han has crafted an amazing series which readers will love long after they have finished it.

P.S. I Still Love You (5/26/15): 4 stars

book review

Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Pages: 432
Source: received from publisher in exchange for honest review
Buy It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.      Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens. --Goodreads
When Hope’s mother is presumed dead by an earthquake, her father simply believes the worst. After the funeral, Hope is invited to her aunt’s manor in the highlands of Scotland and finally, receives the answers she’s been wishing for. Her mother is, in fact, still alive but lost in time. It is up to Hope to travel through time and find her mother before it is too late and her own mother becomes part of history itself.

Into the Dim is filled with nonstop action, comprehensible time travel and not to mention, the rolling landscape of the Scottish highlands.

The setting itself should persuade any reader to delve into the adventure Janet B. Taylor unravels in the book. Scotland is described so elaborately that readers can almost smell the crisp air while Hope, the protagonist, horse rides through the highlands.  Taylor gives readers an authentic look at Scotland, using dialect which whisks them right in the same room as all the characters.

 The easy-to-understand time travel is another plus in the ever growing list of why Into the Dim should be your next read. Any book that quotes Doctor Who in the first hundred pages is going to be a fine book, indeed. Taylor weaves a magnificent time travel tale that actually makes sense.  Readers will get lost in the adventure, rather than questioning over the science of time travel and how it all works.

doctor who matt smith eleventh doctor karen gillan amy pond

Into the Dim would not have been complete without its nonstop action, where readers will be having trouble finding a place for their bookmark. One scene will engulf the next in a flowing circle until the book’s end with “to be continued.”

I do warn those who wish to read only complete series before beginning.  There will be a second. And as I have just finished naught a moment ago, I am already having trouble waiting for Into the Dim’s sequel.  This debut was a fantastic start to a time travel adventure series.

All the characters were simply unforgettable. Each one—including Phoebe, Bran and Collum—will have readers hearts bursting by the end.

It is a story that tugs at your heartstrings.  Into the Dim is both a mystery and adventure with a marvelous protagonist to guide the way.  Hope is brave, yet flawed, which makes her incredibly relatable and a role model.  Janet B. Taylor created a lovely debut that both Outlander and Doctor Who fans will absolutely adore.

book discussion

6 Books on My TBR: March 2016

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Since I took a small vacation from the Internet last month, I didn't see the point in writing up a Kickin' It post when I only posted one review last month. I know. I was shocked myself. But with the busy month, and being in a depressing reading slump, I didn't read or write much at all. However, I'm starting this month off right.

I just finished Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor, a debut time travel adventure. It was fantastic! So much so, that I am back -- out of my reading slump and back on the saddle. Well, at least I hope I am. I'm currently diving head first into Glass Sword, the sequel to the awesome Red Queen, by Victoria Averyard. I'm loving every minute of that as well. So I have high hopes for this month's reading.

My TBR tends to change a lot but I do put the books I want to read for that month in a pile on my floor so it's easy to just swipe one up and go on my merry way. This, my friends, is what I have in my pile this March.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (7/26/05): I binge-watched the first season of Outlander a few months ago. I was going to wait until I read the books but the series seems to be never-ending so I started with the show first. And it surprised me. I didn't think I would like it but I so did. Since the second season starts up again in April, I thought I would finally get a move on with the series and find out what will happen with Jamie and Claire in France before the season starts up.

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken (1/5/16): I started this book as soon as it came out but then got distracted or disinterested. I was only 20 pages in so I can't say how much I liked it. Except it's a time travel adventure, of course I'm going to like it. I'll just have to read it and find out. I will probably not be reading it back to back with Outlander though since I don't want to mix up my time travels. :)

Winter by Marissa Meyer (11/10/15): When I rechecked the publication date on this, all I could think about was: What have I been doing with my life that I haven't read the finale to the Lunar Chronicles yet? Obviously, wasting my time.  Winter has been my top priority for months but the reading slump kept pushing it to the back. No more, my friends!

Allegiant by Veronica Roth (10/22/13): Confession: I just found out that Allegiant, the movie, releases March 18.  I've been putting off reading this book since it came out because EVERYONE says that it breaks their heart. I don't want to go through that, considering I loved Divergent and Insurgent. Four and Tris and my OTP forever.  I don't want spoilers so I will definitely be reading this before the movie releases!

The Winner's Curse (3/4/14) and The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (3/3/15): I'm a true believer in reading the series after it is completed and the third one comes out this month (March 29)! I'm excited to start this series. A lot of reviews have raved how fantastic the writing is.

What will you be reading this month?

book review

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

Publisher: Point
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Pages: 320
Source: received from publisher in exchange for honest review
Buy It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
From debut author Goldy Moldavsky, the story of four superfan friends whose devotion to their favorite boy band has darkly comical and murderous results.
Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn't supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band.
We didn't mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he's tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it's Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn't be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.
We didn't mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn't. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that's what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.
How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell. --Goodreads
Four super fans infiltrate the hotel their favorite boy band, The Ruperts, are staying at for their New York tour. After they, accidentally, kidnap one of the boys, they begin to realize how society pressures teens to love boy bands.  Being a fan is not all that is cracked up to be.

First, I want to take a moment and breathe because you may not get a chance to when you plunge into the crazy that is Kill the Boy Band. Kill the Boy Band was the strangest debut I’ve ever read. It may have been the craziest. And it most definitely is the boldest piece of work that has graced my bookshelf in a long time.

It starts out innocent enough. These four girls are the ultimate fans of The Ruperts, a band of four boys named Rupert. Each fan all have their own way of loving the band. And then they don’t. After accidentally kidnapping one of The Ruperts, things start getting weird.  Kill the Boy Band becomes a slow progression of true ridiculousness (and I never said it was funny).  A lot of reviews have said how Goldy Moldavsky’s book is hilarious.  I find the book filled with dark humor but nothing close to hilarity.

The narrative is told by a girl who never tells readers her name. At first, I thought not disclosing the protagonist’s name was meant to prolong the mystery, similar to why E.K. Johnston did it in A Thousand Nights.  Yet, the true message behind the unnamed protagonist and the whole plot was not as literal as I first thought. Kill the Boy Band, underneath the ridiculousness of kidnapping a boy band member, is the true colors of the boy band dynamic in society and how it’s a false representation of society itself.

A documentary about boy bands and the fangirls that love them inspired Goldy Moldavsky to write Kill the Boy Band.  The unnamed main character’s narration begins asking questions about fans and to what lengths they will go to in order to see the boys of their dreams.  In turn, readers begin asking the same thing. Kill the Boy Band encompasses readers’ mind, and cleverly inspires readers to look between the lines beyond the strange plot.  Kill the Boy Band may be the boldest debut which tells us a message about our own society. Now all I ask you: do you want to kill the boy band or let it continue on?